Hard work pays dividends for Lamoureaux
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- Mario Lamoureux knew whom to call when things got frustrating last year. As a University of North Dakota freshman forward, the Grand Forks native sat in the stands for most of the early season and watched his team's reco...
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- Mario Lamoureux knew whom to call when things got frustrating last year.
As a University of North Dakota freshman forward, the Grand Forks native sat in the stands for most of the early season and watched his team's record spiral three games below .500 by Thanksgiving.
"It was tough to watch the team win, because you wanted to be out there," Lamoureux said. "And it was tough to watch the team lose, because you feel like you could make a difference. You never really know what it feels like unless you go through it."
Lamoureux frequently chatted with his older brother, Jean-Philippe.
Jean-Philippe knew exactly what Mario was going through. He spent his first two seasons at UND on the bench behind goalie Jordan Parise.
The elder Lamoureux prepared meticulously, waited his turn and delivered two great seasons once his opportunity to start arrived.
He led UND to two Frozen Fours and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior.
His advice to Mario: "Be loyal to the program and the program will be loyal back to you."
"I really took that to heart," Mario said. "I still put that in my day-to-day activities. Even today, I'm thinking about what I can bring to the table at practice that's going to help the team win.
"Going through what I did last year, I really learned to care about the logo and this program. You just have to do whatever it takes, whatever is best for the team. You don't find that a lot of places."
Lamoureux said he now sees that last year was a blessing in disguise.
"I was pretty mentally tough coming in last year, but it went to a whole other level last year," Mario said. "I knew I had to play my absolute best every game and every time I stepped on the ice."
By midseason, Lamoureux was a fixture in the lineup. He played either wing or center on the team's fourth line and finished with three goals and three assists. The team won every time he scored.
He returned this year with five freshman forwards -- four of them NHL draft picks -- ready to take his spot. But Lamoureux didn't let that happen. He worked out feverishly all summer, thinking about how it felt to sit in the stands.
"That pushed me to elevate my game through the summer," he said. "I really tried to concentrate on doing things in the weight room that were going to help me on the ice."
Lamoureux returned to camp this fall in such good shape that it elicited steroid jokes from teammates. The work has paid off on the ice, too. Holding down a spot on the third line, Lamoureux already has two goals and two assists in six games.
"The best line I've heard about him is that he practices and plays like he hasn't made the team yet," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's done that since the first day he's been here. I'm sure the support -- not only from his brother but from his whole family -- has helped him to be able to do that.
"Nothing came easy for either (Mario or Phil). Phil had to battle awful hard for playing time through his first couple of years. That paid off in an All-American, Hobey Baker candidate type of year as a senior and now to the good start of a pro career.
"Mario paid his dues last year, no question about that," the coach said.
Mario has earned the respect of his teammates for how he handles himself on a day-to-day basis. Captain Chay Genoway said Lamoureux could have easily been named UND's most improved player a year ago.
"That guy is so underrated," Genoway said. "If you watch him play, he outworks everyone every day. He's one of my favorite players to watch. You know what you're going to get out of him every day. He's the ultimate teammate."
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